- Number 449 |
- October 5, 2015
An international team of researchers, including the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology at the University of Twente in the Netherlands and DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory, announced in Science the observation of a dynamic Mott transition in a superconductor.
The discovery experimentally connects the worlds of classical and quantum mechanics and illuminates the mysterious nature of the Mott transition. It also could shed light on non-equilibrium physics, which is poorly understood but governs most of what occurs in our world. The finding may also represent a step towards more efficient electronics based on the Mott transition.
Imagine a gas giant planet like Jupiter. Where does the surface begin and the atmosphere end? Questions like these can be answered by understanding the boundaries between phases of matter, which we sometimes think of as delineated by strong boundaries.
But expose certain gases to enough pressure and heat, and they will enter a hinterland between the phases where they can have the properties of both a gas and a liquid at the same time. This extraordinary behavior of ordinary liquids in the “supercritical” phase is exploited for use in many technologies, for example in decaffeinating coffee, producing pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, and even dry-cleaning and nuclear waste cleanup.
Two years ago, scientists on the Muon g-2 experiment successfully brought a fragile, expensive and complex 17-ton electromagnet on a 3,200-mile land and sea trek from DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York to Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois.
Now, the magnet is one step closer to serving its purpose as the centerpiece of an experiment to probe the mysteries of the universe with subatomic particles called muons. The ring—now installed in a new, specially designed building at Fermilab—was successfully cooled down to operating temperature (minus 450 degrees Fahrenheit) and powered up, proving that even after a decade of inactivity, it remains a vital and viable scientific instrument.
With fossil-fuel sources dwindling, better biofuel cell design is a strong candidate in the energy field. In research published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, researchers at DOE's Los Alamos National Laboratory and external collaborators synthesized and characterized a new DNA-templated gold nanocluster (AuNC) that could resolve a critical methodological barrier for efficient biofuel cell design.
“Enzymatic fuel cells and nanomaterials show great promise—and as they can operate under environmentally benign neutral pH conditions, they are a greener alternative to existing alkaline or acidic fuel cells, making them the subject of worldwide research endeavors,” said Saumen Chakraborty, a scientist on the project. “Our work seeks to boost electron transfer efficiency, creating a potential candidate for the development of cathodes in enzymatic fuel cells.”